Why my wife thinks I'm a heretic
Now that you've all decided I'm a nut, I'll try to explain myself.
First off, I certainly do not believe we were totally depraved in the garden. I do a really bad job of communicating myself to Devona, and somehow that's what she ended up hearing. My apologies, dear wife.
Here's what I do think: Before the fall Adam and Eve were not kept righteous by their own power, but the power of God.
Now, anyone who has listened to the last few episodes of White Horse Inn will know that some say Adam and Eve were in a covenantal relationship with God before the fall. I used to agree until reading Forde's On Being a Theologian of the Cross - an excellent book on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation.
In the fifteenth thesis of this disputation, Luther writes: "Free will [could not] remain in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in its passive capacity." In the garden it was not our "active capacity" of holding up our end of a covenant with God that preserved our innocence. We depended on God for all our righteousness in the Garden.
This is why eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was wrong. God didn't want to play some cruel trick by giving us a Law He knew we would never uphold and then watch us flail off into the abyss. He wanted us to remain righteous by letting Him be our righteousness.
This is an important step for Luther in demolishing justification by works. To take hold of the cross in its fullness we must realize that any work to "rise up" to God or exist independently from Him will always be tainted by sin -- even those works that occurred before the fall.
In the garden, Luther would say, we did not remain innocent by holding up our end of the deal, but by being completely dependent on God. When Adam and Eve struck out for independence they committed the original sin, and humans have been giving birth to people dead in their transgressions ever since.
Righteousness has never existed apart from God. Even in the garden, any righteousness we had was His.
Thoughts? After listening to White Horse, I'm wondering what the LCMS understanding of this issue is today. Rosenbladt seems to differ from Luther.